As the NFL draft draws closer, there is still some doubt about who the Ravens will select with the No. 22 overall pick in the first round, but the opinion here is still the same: The Ravens will trade down and acquire more picks.
They have eight picks overall, but only one in the first two rounds, and that’s not enough for a team that has several holes to fill. If the Ravens can’t trade down, they should get a pass rusher to complement a secondary that could be one of the best in the NFL.
And if they trade down, they should load up with offensive or defensive linemen in the second and third rounds. As much as the game has changed and become more pass-oriented, the basic approach is still the same: A team will win if it can dominate the line of scrimmage.
The draft is always loaded with good linemen who can be taken in the second and third rounds, and this year is no exception, according to some of the so-called experts. Since the Ravens have already invested in Lamar Jackson, they might as well draft players who can protect him since he is a running quarterback.
On the defensive side, the Ravens could use more depth behind tackles Brandon Williams, Michael Pierce and Chris Wormley. The Ravens don’t need run stoppers but versatile performers who can also rush the passer.
One confusing draft message that has come from the Ravens is that they want to draft or sign players who complement Jackson’s playing abilities and style.
Does that mean they take a receiver who is better at blocking than at catching the ball? Does that mean they want an offensive lineman who is better at run blocking than in pass protection? That’s a dangerous precedent.
They can build the offense around Jackson, but they should stick with their old philosophy and draft the best player available. And if they need to stretch, then do it the way they did in 1998 when they selected University of Miami cornerback Duane Starks in the first round.
If this Jackson experiment doesn’t work out in two years, the Ravens will be stuck with a lot of limited players, and a few more years will be added to a rebuilding process.
More Ravens on way to Canton?
Safety Ed Reed will be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame this summer, and there might be two more Ravens headed to Canton, Ohio, in the near future in outside linebacker Terrell Suggs and right guard Marshal Yanda.
Suggs might not make it on the first ballot, but he’ll get in because he was the Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2003, the Defensive Player of the Year in 2011 and has 132 ½ career sacks. Having over 100 sacks is one of the magic numbers to getting in.
Suggs was one of those players who not only had great speed around the corner, but enough strength and change of direction to overpower opponents as well.
Yanda has been a great player during his time in Baltimore with seven Pro Bowl selections, but I never thought he was the overpowering type like other Hall of Fame guards including Larry Allen, Gene Upshaw, Larry Little and John Hannah were. He was good, but not in that class.
Strong relationship with defense
Ravens coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale provided the missing ingredient to this defense that had been absent for years.
No, I’m not talking about his attacking style late in games.
Last season, he appeared to have a good relationship with his players, and they wanted to play hard for him. When that happens, it shows that the coach-player relationship is more than X’s & O’s, and that coach has reached their souls.
“I would agree with that,” Ravens linebacker Patrick Onwuasor said during a recent interview. “He kind of has that way about him. When you play well or do something good he’ll come over and tell you. It makes you feel proud when he does that. That’s Wink.”
Ozzie is in his element
Former Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome should be a great source for current GM Eric DeCosta to tap into for the draft.
Newsome loves watching film and evaluating players, but this year he doesn’t have to be bothered with other GM duties like seeking possible trade partners on draft days, perpetuating lies about which player the Ravens will draft or negotiating about free-agent contracts.
He is just sitting in a room watching video after video and loving life.
While teams spend hundreds of thousands of dollars flying around the country to evaluate players, Newsome offered the best piece of advice ever.
“You watch the tape and see what he does on game day and see if he does it game after game after game,” Newsome once said. “That’s the best way to evaluate.”
Much to learn on Roberts
Don’t know much about the Ravens’ newly acquired receiver Seth Roberts, formerly of the Oakland Raiders. He had 158 receptions for 1,826 yards and 13 touchdowns with the Raiders from 2014 to 2018.
There are some who say he can block, which is desperately needed in this newly devised offense. But I also bet he came cheap.
Poor move by Bisciotti
Note to owner Steve Bisciotti: You probably thought I forgot that you didn’t have your annual State of the Ravens news conference at the end of the 2018 season.
It was a poor move. Ravens fans deserve better.